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Friday, January 20, 2006

Circle of betrayal is complete

This week, the Israeli Supreme Court refused to declare Jonathan Pollard a "Prisoner of Zion." While Pollard's actions caused lots of discomfort for American Jews in the 1980's, I think that most of us now agree that his punishment was disproportionate to his crime, and that he has spent more than enough time in prison in the US paying for his crime. This article was written by Pollard's wife, Esther.

... Jonathan and I are dismayed by the court's written decision that memorializes deeply damaging Government lies, without a shred of evidence! The written decision falsely claims that the Government of Israel is supporting Jonathan and me financially, paying for his attorneys, and generally taking care of us. This is a complete and utter falsehood! In official documents that we hold, the Government has repeatedly admitted that we are not receiving, nor they have we ever received, any financial support from the Government of Israel. We live in abject penury, dependent on the kindness of a few friends to survive. None of my husband's attorneys, in the US or in Israel, has been paid for work on his behalf.


Jonathan and I deplore the court's suggestion that the government invent a "symbolic status" for Jonathan. In its written decision, the Court facetiously suggested that the Government come up with some new "symbolic status" for Jonathan Pollard, one that would not oblige it in any way. The Court ought to have reminded the Government that Jonathan is officially recognized as an Israeli Agent and that it is high time that the Government of Israel discharge its obligations to him as such; and not help the Government invent new ways to duck its responsibility to him.

We are shocked by the sophistry the court used to deny Jonathan's petition. The Court's written decision claims that Jonathan, an official Israeli agent, who spied for Israel cannot be granted Prisoner of Zion Status because he was not arrested as a Jew; and because espionage is a felony, not a Zionist activity. It further states that only one who is arrested as a Jew for an activity which encourages Aliyah, but which is considered illegal in the country of arrest, can be considered a Prisoner of Zion. This flies in the face of historical precedent and fact.

Israel's best known Prisoner of Zion, former cabinet minister Natan Sharansky is a convicted spy and felon. Sharanksy was arrested, indicted, convicted and incarcerated in the Soviet Union on charges of spying for the US. Yet he is recognized by the State of Israel as a Prisoner of Zion.

So too MK Yuli Edelstein and Rabbi Yosef Mendelevitch. Both Edelstein and Mendelevitch are felons convicted of serious crimes in the USSR. Mendelevitch was convicted of conspiracy to hijack an aircraft and fly it to Israel! Yet these "convicted felons" are recognized by the State of Israel as Prisoners of Zion.

Just like Jonathan Pollard, neither Sharanksy nor Edelstein nor Mendelevitch was arrested as a Jew. They were arrested for the crimes they were indicted for in the Soviet Union -- crimes that had absolutely nothing to do with encouraging Aliyah!


The Court essentially dismissed the sacrifice of such great heroes of Zionism as Eli Cohen, Chana Senesh and Sarah Abramson, in virtually ruling that espionage on behalf of the State of Israel -- for its protection, defense and its very existence - is criminal, not Zionist. A great disservice was done to Israel's intelligence community and to its recruitment services by this judgment.

The Court simply turned a blind eye to Jonathan's documented claims of harsh treatment and abuse and to the anti-Semitic nature of his life sentence. It demonstrated a complete unwillingness to extend the same consideration to him that the Government of Israel routinely extends to murderers and terrorists -- which it is now poised to extend to multiple murderers Marwan Barghouti and Samir Kuntar -- treating them as Prisoners of War, in order to free them.

But the High Court of Israel could not find it in its heart to grant Jonathan Pollard the status of Prisoner of Zion, to which he is fully entitled, not even to save the life of an Israeli agent. Justice has not been served.


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